Shared Stories

2016 stats: 27 Submissions
2017 stats: 19 submissions

2016 Shared Stories


From: Nancy - Trumbull Connecticut

When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey in the 1960s and 1970s, Chanukah, like Christmas, wasn't nearly as commercial as it is today. In fact, Chanukah was very low-key. My family never gave gifts on all eight nights of the holiday, despite what my friends thought! Although the gifts were nice, what I remember most is the smell of my mother's latkes and watching the candles burn on the menorah. I also remember putting together small blue and white cardboard Tzedakah boxes that we brought home from Hebrew school, and my brother and I dropping our pennies into the slit in the "pushke." In Judiasm, tzedakah is the religous obligation to do what is right and just, especially aiding those in need through donations. The boxes we dutifully filled went to the Jewish National Fund, for investment in the then-very young State of Israel, buying land and trees. Now, through social media, the concept of designating a night of Chanukah for "tzedakah" over presents has become a movement in reaction to the over commercialization of this simple holiday. I hope it overtakes the presents some day. 

Homes For The Brave

From: Brendan - Fairfield Connecticut

I am personally very fond of the work Homes For The Brave does with our brave veterans who have served in the military. These men and women often need help getting back on their feet once they are out of the service. Around the holidays I either volunteer to serve meals there or organize fundraisers to help the residents. It is a rewarding experience to help those who have helped millions of Americans.

Holiday Skating Show

From: abby - Trumbull Connecticut

Every year I help teach younger children how to skate in preparation for a Christmas show

Stockings and blankets

From: Valerie - Trumbull Connecticut

At church a coat drive is run by a fellow student , and I participate in it yearly. I donate blankets and old coats that don't fit me any longer, and also help in the "saleperson". i talk to the chruch about it and tell people how to doantate. Everything donated, is given to a place in Bridgeport. I also have done stockings for the same shelter. I ask the people at my chruch to donate candy and little gifts, and put it in stockings. Last year I made 35 stockings from 2 weeks worth of donations. This year i will being starting it up sooner and plan on making 40 stockings. 

Rake and Run

From: Alexa - Trumbull Connecticut

Every Thanksgiving, my family and I get together with our church and drive around Trumbull to rake leaves for the elderly, widows, or people who are physically incapable of raking their yard. 

Australian Lifesaving

From: Krystalla - BROOKLYN New York

Growing up in Australia, I volunteered as a lifesaver at our local beach every summer. (We're lifesavers not just guards Down Under!)

Christmas was a busy day so some years I would have to patrol the beaches rather than laze around eating all day with my family. One year my whole family came down to the beach to spend it with me!

It's obviously a very different kind of Christmas to what we experience in the Northern Hemisphere. And as much as I was sorry to be away from my family some years, it was lovely to watch families enjoying themselves at the beach and helping them however I could - usually I didn't have to do much more than hand out sunscreen but one year we had to rescue a man that had been stung by a stingray out at sea.

Relieved for the holidays

From: Aliza - Brooklyn New York

My Jewish friends and I used to volunteer at the local hospitals on Christmas so that employees could go home to their families to celebrate. 

Tye Family Christmas

From: Cindy - Darien Connecticut

When both my grown children and now a daughter-in-law, spend Christmas with me in Connecticut, we go to the Norwalk Homeless Shelter to help prepare the Christmas lunch.  After a quick brekafast, we head over there  around 9am. It is quite busy in the small kitchen space, but we are usually joined by a few others doing the same thing.  We help put the turkeys and the stuffing in the ovens, mash the potatoes with butter and milk, we open big cans of string beans and put them in the big pans on top of the stove, we find the rolls to warm them, we prepare the lettuce and whatever veggies we have for salad.  A group sets the tables and decorates with whatever is available.  When it is all ready, we help each other make the plates, that are then served to all the waiting patrons.  That to me is the most fun part.  The guests are so grateful to have a warm meal, and we know that we have helped make the day a little better and more special for many who would not normally have had much.


From: Nancy - Fairfield Connecticut

When my sons were younger we purchased gifts and served dinner at a homeless veterans shelter.  The men who lived there shared amazing stories about their lives that we will always remember.

Serving Dinner at Homes for The Brave

From: Kyle - Bridgeport Connecticut

For several years our family tradition was helping serve Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to homeless veterans at Homes for The Brave in Bridgeport. After everyone finished eating, we would sit around and tell stories, laugh, and sometimes sing music. It always turned out to be an amazing evening.